Word of the day; Patience.... and Waiting. I guess thats two words. Lets try that again. Noun of the day; Patience. Verb of the day; Waiting. No, I like to have only one word of the day, lets make one up and call it Waitence, which now means waiting with patience. Now I'm rambling. Thank you for your waitence.
I can't speak for all of Africa, but at least for the parts of East Africa that I have seen, I can say that time is relative. America absolutley loves time. So much of what we do revolves around being places at very specific times of the day and doing things for very specific amounts of time. Even when I was in America sometimes I would say that we are slaves to time. Being in Africa has only reinforced that idea. Don't get me wrong, they do have clocks in Kenya. They are just not always in places where they can be seen, or have batteries in them.
I remember my days at Shelbyville Middle and High Schools. Each class period was an exact number of minutes,and I remember even setting my watch to the precise second so that I could know when to jump up and run to lunch. The passing period between classes was 4 minutes I think. If you weren't in a classroom in your seat when that bell rang, you would be listed as tardy and there would be consequences. Looking on that now from an African lens it makes me think "We Americans do like stress don't we." Here when it is near the time that the 40 minute class period is over a student will get up and ring a bell. If the student is five or ten minutes late or early, not a big deal. Nobody stresses. Then the teacher will mosey towards the classroom when he or she feels like it and start class. If there is an interesting conversation in the staff room, then the students can wait by themselves a few minutes until the teachers arrive. Nobody stresses.(If I remember right I think some of the math/social studies teachers at SHS employed this technique.) I have not seen any place to keep attendance, let alone tardy slips. And you know what, its ok. Why should the kids be policed to come to school. They realize the importance of an education and want to be there. If they do not show up then it is probably for an important reason. Maybe there is work on the farm that needs done today. Maybe a mother is ill and needs help. I don't think that we could use these policies in America unless there was some major overhauling of our attitudes. We are very rule oriented and we like that structure. Time, as a rule, rules our lives. Sorry I'm rambling again. Have some waitence.
Anecdote 2: I went to Uganda this past weekend to go white-water rafting at the source of the Nile. (God did a very nice job wih the Nile.) Traveling to and from Uganda we took large coaches, kind of like Greyhounds. From Nairobi to Jinja it was supposed to take ten hours. Actual travel time; thirteen hours. But whats another three when you are already sitting for ten right. I slept through most of that anyway, so not a big deal. It was the trip back that really tried my waitence. My group had to split up going home because of the availability of tickets and work schedules. So my friend Lauren and I were to take the 6:00 pm bus to Kisumu where we were supposed to meet our friend Anselm. Leaving at that time we should have arrived by 10:00 pm when our friend would be waiting to pick us up and take us to his home. We arrived at the bus station at the scheduled time of 5:00. We waited. Six came around, no bus. We waited. Seven, no bus. Some buses passed through, but the workers said these were not our buses. They were going to other places. Eight, no bus. At about ten we find out that one of those earlier buses was our bus, but that it was full and could not take us on as passengers (even though we had bought the tickets a day earlier.) But we could get on the next bus. Midnight, finally a bus arrives that they tell us to get on. YAY, more hours of sitting. We get through the Kenyan border ok at about 2:30. After another police check, we are off again. I ask one of the bus employees to let us know when we get to Kisumu so that we don't fall asleep and go all the way through to Nairobi. To our chagrin he informed us that this bus was not going to Kisumu. Surprise. After some conferring they decided we should get out and wait for another bus. Fortunately there happened to be a Matatu bus going to Kisumu for whatever reason at 3 in the morning. Not a pleasant ride, but anyway we finally get to Kisumu as the sun is coming up. My first American reaction was "Who can I sue, or what can I get out of this bus company in compensation." My next thought, "Haha, we are in Africa now, it happens, don't stress."
I'm trying to learn now. If I am supposed to be at a meeting at noon, it may or may not get started at two-ish. If a post office's posted hours say open till six, I better get there by three if it is important, because they close when they feel like it. I'm going to try really hard to master this way of looking at time.
So in conclusion. I apologize in advance for when I return to the States and Orem time is two hours late instead of only fifteen minutes. Have some waitence with me. Peace and God Bless
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